By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
Even when facing the obstacles of a global pandemic, Positive Impact Health Centers has continued their work of ultimately ending the HIV epidemic. With their new At-Home HIV Testing Program, they provide a new option to conduct an HIV test in the privacy and safety of your own home. Peach spoke to Jordan Chappell, Prevention Specialist Team Lead at Positive Impact Health Centers (PIHC), about the new initiative.
With the ongoing CO VID-19 pandemic, how has it impacted your work? And how do you see the work of Positive Impact Health Centers changing in the future?
Since the beginning of the fight against HIV/AIDS advocates strategically adapted to societal needs by creating tests that gave faster results, providing housing, mental health, and substance abuse services to HIV+ individuals, and so on to meet the demands of the people during an epidemic and save lives. COVID-19 has presented another opportunity in history to adapt and create new innovations that allow us to remain attentive before a still present HIV epidemic. The COVID-19 pandemic added an extra obstacle to meeting our goal due to recommendations to be socially distant and our desire to protect the well-being of our patrons and staff. We at Positive Impact Health Centers quickly began to adapt our operations due to the pandemic by transitioning many of our face-to-face interactions to telehealth, providing delivery and curbside pharmacy pick up, and greatly reducing the amount of foot traffic in our buildings. The At-Home HIV Testing Program is our new addition and possibly an indicator to show how our services will be conducted in the near future.
Tells us about the new at-home testing option and how it impacts your work?
Our new At-Home HIV Testing Program seeks to overcome the obstacle created by COVID-19 through an approach that allows an individual to request and conduct an HIV test without leaving the privacy of their home. With this program, we also hope to reach those who have discomfort in being testing through conventional means and eliminate many of the other barriers to getting tested, such as transportation and fear of stigma.
How do you conduct an at-home HIV test? What do you do before and after?
Our team has worked very hard to make the testing process quick and easy to do. Anyone interested can start the process by first visiting PIHCGA.org/athometesting where they can learn about our organization and the program itself. Once ready, they will be directed towards a 5-minute survey, and once complete, their free At-Home HIV Test kit will be mailed via priority shipping. The kit will include a safer sex kit (condoms/lube), information regarding our other programs and services, and one Oraquick Oral HIV Test. By following the instructions included with the test, one could know their status within 20 minutes. Following the result, individuals are encouraged to share their overall experience and results with PIHC via our Post Survey so that we may provide additional support, whether it may be linkage to PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) or clinical care. Individuals who observe a negative result will be able to request another At-Home HIV test every 90 days.
How do you proceed if you get a positive result?
Testing positive with the Oraquick HIV test indicates that there is a possibility that you’ve been exposed to HIV. Individuals who test positive are encouraged to schedule a telehealth appointment with the post-survey or give us a call at 678-365-4300 so that one of our experienced specialists can provide needed support by interpreting results, conducting post-test counseling, and discussing next steps. Positive Impact Health Centers provides HIV medical care to individuals who are insured and uninsured at multiple locations in the Metro Atlanta area (Decatur, Duluth, and Marietta).
Available HIV testing is just one of the things you offer. Can you tell us about some of your other initiatives?
PIHC provides an array of additional services that include:
- Free Same Day PrEP linkages for those who are either insured or
- STD testing
- Behavior Health Counseling
- IMPACT (Substance Abuse Counseling)
- Our free “Condoms from Home” Program where individuals request selected assortment of condoms to be mailed to their homes
- Our GED program specifically for individuals of Trans experience
If you want to learn more about At-Home Testing or any other service, please visit PIHCGA.org or call at 678-365-4300